Policy on the Safeguarding Adults at Risk


The Birmingham Buddhist Centre is seeking to put into practice the key Buddhist ethical principles of kindness, generosity, contentment, truthfulness and awareness. We work within an inter-agency framework guided by the best practice and policy guidelines of the Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board. It refers to law and good practice in England and Wales.  

Purpose of this policy

This document is for Friends, Mitras and Order members involved in the Birmingham Buddhist Centre and its activities (including those of any outreach group run by this charity) as employees, volunteers, leaders, teachers, or members of the general public attending our classes, as well as room-hire customers.

It aims to provide:

  • Protection for adults attending Birmingham Buddhist Centre activities who may be “at risk” or vulnerable, and
  • Protection for Friends, Mitras and Order members working with them.

It sets out:

  • Information and practices contributing to the prevention of harm of ‘adults at risk’, previously known as ‘vulnerable adults’.
  • A course of action to be followed if harm is suspected.

Although we do not run activities specifically for those with mental illness or addiction, we recognise that people who may be vulnerable in these, or other, ways do attend our events and take part in the life of our sangha. This policy is intended to help keep them safe.

The trustees of the Birmingham Buddhist Centre recognise their responsibility to safeguard adults deemed to be “at risk” who are visiting our Buddhist Centre or involved in Buddhist Centre activities.

Pasannamati and Dharmashalin are our Safeguarding Officers. They are ​ responsible for co-ordinating the protection of at-risk children and adults.

Dharmashalin and Pasannamati are our Safeguarding Trustees. They are ​ responsible for making sure safeguarding is taken seriously by the trustees and appears regularly on their agenda, ensuring trustees comply with their safeguarding obligations as required by the Charity Commission.

Who is an “adult”?

In the United Kingdom an “adult” is a person who has passed their 18​th birthday.                                                                  

Who is an “adult at risk”?

This is not currently well defined. However, the following is one widely-used definition:

A person aged 18 or over, who needs, or may need, community care services because they are frail or have a learning disability, physical disability, sight or hearing disability or mental health issues; and cannot (or may not be able to) care for themselves, or take steps to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.

Adults who may be ‘at risk’ also include those who; have dementia, or learning disabilities, or mental health problems, or drug, alcohol or substance dependency, or physical or sensory disabilities, or have been bereaved, or suffered grief and loss, or through age or illness are dependent on other people to help them, or who live with domestic abuse, are homeless, are refugees or asylum seekers or, for any reason, may be considered not to have ‘mental capacity’ (see Appendix 1).

Whether or not a person is “at risk” or “vulnerable” in these cases will vary according to circumstances. It should be noted that a person with a physical disability is not necessarily vulnerable or at risk, though they could be. Each case must be judged on its own merits.

Protecting those with psychological disorders

We are aware that those attending our Buddhist Centre and activities include adults experiencing psychological disorders ranging from mild to severe. (This can be particularly complex online. For more information see Appendix 2.)

We recognise that we do not have the professional skills to diagnose or help people with psychological disorders and that they may not be helped solely by the kindness of Buddhists. In such cases we may need to advise them to seek specialist help.

We are aware that, for people with serious psychological disorders, traditional Buddhist vipassana/ wisdom practices can be extremely challenging. We may need to encourage them in traditional Buddhist practices involving the calming of body and mind, or suggest they avoid meditation (altogether, or during periods of relapse).

Where we believe a person to be at risk of suicide or self-harm, or to pose a risk to others, we will alert one of our Safeguarding Officers, who will refer them to local mental health services and/or the police, as appropriate, and consult with the Triratna Safeguarding Team if necessary (safeguarding@triratnadevelopment.org).

Lettings/ hire-outs

We understand that our charity is jointly responsible with those renting our premises for the safeguarding of children and adults coming to the Buddhist Centre, but that our trustees bear ultimate responsibility for the safeguarding of everyone on our premises. Therefore our standard hire agreement requires an organisation or individual renting our premises to comply with our safeguarding policies which are made available to them.

The Carers Project is run as part of a consortium of organisations under the umbrella of Forward Carers. Any safeguarding concern involving a carer would also need to be raised with Dionne Williams (Designated Safeguarding Lead – DSL – for Forward ​ Carers). She can be contacted for consultation, advice and support and is responsible for supporting partners with appropriate training. As DSL she also has a duty to ensure Forward Carers, its partners and all contracted bodies are compliant with

safeguarding regulations. Call 07480 252237​  or email Dionne.williams@forwardcarers.org.uk.

What is ‘abuse’?

‘Abuse’ is not a legal term, but covers a number of ways in which a person may be deliberately harmed (legally or illegally), ​ usually by someone who is in a position of ​ power, trust or authority over them, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority over them;​ for example, a Friend, Mitra or Order member who is helping to run Birmingham Buddhist Centre activities for those relatively new to such activities. The harm may be physical, psychological or emotional, or it may exploit the vulnerability of the person in more subtle ways.

However, harm can also occur less consciously, through naivety, idealism or lack of awareness.

Types of abuse

The 2014 Care Act identifies ten types of abuse, all of which have a psychological/emotional aspect:

physical abuse sexual abuse neglect and acts of omission
organisational abuse self-neglect financial or material abuse
modern slavery psychological abuse domestic abuse discriminatory abuse

Please see Appendix 4 for a full list of the types and signs of abuse.

People who might abuse

Abuse may happen anywhere and may be carried out by anyone, for example:

  • Order members, Mitras and Friends, whether financially supported or volunteering;
  • Parents;
  • People you consider good and trusted friends;
  • Informal carers, family, friends, neighbours;
  • Other users or tenants of Birmingham Buddhist Centre; Strangers or visitors to Birmingham Buddhist Centre.

Practical expression of our duty of care

You MUST​ report to the Buddhist Centre’s Safeguarding Officer(s) if you: ​

  • Receive a disclosure of abuse.
  • Suspect abuse is happening. Witness abuse or neglect.

What to do if an adult alleges abuse

  • Stay calm.
  • Listen patiently.
  • Reassure the person they are doing the right thing by telling you.
  • Clarify issues of confidentiality early on. Make it clear that you may have a legal duty to discuss their concerns with others, on a strictly need-to-know basis. If at all possible gain their permission to do so.
  • Explain what you are going to do.
  • Write a factual account of what you have seen and heard, immediately.

Do not

  • Appear shocked, horrified, disgusted or angry.
  • Press the individual for details.
  • Make comments or judgments other than to show concern. Your responsibility is to​ take them seriously, not to decide whether what they are saying is true.
  • Promise to keep secrets.
  • Confront the alleged perpetrator.
  • Risk contaminating the evidence by investigating matters yourself.

Additional guidance can be found in Appendix 2 ‘Assessing and Managing Risk’.

As soon as possible

Remember these are complicated situations; your duty is to ensure the person in question is safe.

If you feel someone is in immediate danger contact the Police directly on 999. If not, but you think there has been a crime committed contact West Midlands Police on 0345 113 5000.

Report, as accurately as possible, what you have been told or what you have seen to the Buddhist Centre’s Safeguarding Team: Pasannamati on 07946 033161 or at dh.pasannamati@gmail.com and Dharmashalin on 07779 148172 or at dharmashalin@gmail.com. They will then contact the appropriate local bodies and Triratna Central Safeguarding. If they are not available then contact Triratna Central Safeguarding at safeguarding@triratna.community.

Normally the Safeguarding Officers will follow up any report. If for some reason that is not possible, contact the Birmingham safeguarding authorities via the Adults and Communities Social Worker Teams. They are also able to advise.  E-mail:

ACAP@birmingham.gov.uk, telephone 0121 303 1234 (out of hours emergencies 0121 675 4806) or visit www.bsab.org/how-to-report-abuse.

It is not​ your job to resolve the situation or decide what is right, simply pass the ​ information and concern on to those with the experience and training necessary to resolve the situation.

Why should you report abuse?

  • It won’t stop if you don’t.
  • There could be other victims.
  • You have a duty of care.
  • The person being abused may not be able, for whatever reason, to report it themselves.

Safeguarding Adults should be centred on five principles:

  1. Person Centred – The adult concerned is at the heart of any investigation andaction taken. Work and engage with the adult to manage the risk.
  2. Risk Management – Think holistically, agree on the prioritised risks and documentthem. Be clear on individual’s roles and responsibilities and who the lead person for the case is. The situation should be reviewed with the adult concerned, with specific timescales set out.
  3. Information Sharing – Share information that is relevant, timely and proportionalto the risk identified. This information must be shared in a secure way, on a need to know basis.
  4. Defensible Decision-Making – Safeguarding Officers and trustees are accountablefor decisions and actions taken and not taken. Record the reasons for decisions and demonstrate a proportionate approach.
  5. Multi-Agency Best Practice – Talk to the right people and share informationappropriately. Evidence shared decision-making and keep communication with all relevant parties updated.


The Safeguarding Officers will organise annual safeguarding training for employees, class leaders, event organisers and volunteer supporters.

Reviewing our policies annually

All our safeguarding policies will be reviewed by the Safeguarding Officers and trustees annually, with the reviews recorded in the minutes of their meetings.

Publication of this policy

This policy will be communicated to all employees, class leaders, event organisers and volunteer supporters and made available at the Buddhist Centre. Its existence and whereabouts will also be made known to those attending residential events organised by the Buddhist Centre elsewhere.

Last reviewed: January 2022

Appendix 1: What is ‘mental capacity’?

Whether a person has mental capacity is a matter of specialist assessment and not for us to make. However, it may be useful to know something about it.

Mental capacity is the ability to make a particular decision. An adult may​ ​ be at risk if they are unable to make a decision due to illness, disability, poor mental health, dementia, a learning disability or something else that may impair their judgment.

A person may be deemed to be ‘without capacity’ if they cannot:

  • understand the decision
  • retain the information
  • weigh up the information
  • communicate their decision

About matters such as

  • finance
  • social care
  • medical treatment

Vulnerability can be variable

We recognise that many people who are generally emotionally and psychologically stable in most aspects of their lives may on occasion find themselves vulnerable or at risk. This may be because of illness, relationship breakdown or bereavement, or because their practice of meditation or Buddhism has made them more sensitive and self-aware, particularly if they are new to Buddhism.

We will, for example, bear in mind that a person who is emotionally vulnerable for any reason may not be able to make balanced decisions regarding giving money or becoming more involved with Triratna, or entering into intimate relationships, whether friendships or relationships which are more romantic or sexual in nature. We will take great care to help each other avoid exploiting people in such everyday situations of vulnerability.

Appendix 2: Protecting those with psychological disorders

Buddhism and meditation are increasingly taught using online media. In person it is relatively​ easy to notice where someone may have compromised mental health; online it is much more difficult.

We recognise that among those seeking individual​     ​ online guidance from members of the Triratna Buddhist Order there may be some reporting meditation experiences which are an indication of serious psychological disorder.

In engaging in individual​    ​ guidance online by email, blog, social media or text we will take great care at the start to establish with local Order members the identity, location and suitability of the participant, and which local Order members are available locally to support them in person​ and gaining permission to contact those Order members if we believe they are at risk. (This does not apply where the participant is an Order member and therefore well known to us.)

Appendix 3: DBS checks and managing those who pose a risk to others

DBS checks (Disclosure and Barring Service)

The Charity Commission expects that anyone working for a charity, paid or volunteering, including trustees, will be DBS checked wherever they are eligible. Since the rules on eligibility are complicated and change from time to time, our

Safeguarding Officers will check at least annually with external safeguarding experts, such as Thirtyone:eight (www.thirtyoneeight.org) and ensure everyone eligible for a DBS check has been checked within the previous five years.

We understand that the core team (Mitras or Order members, paid or voluntary) directly responsible for any Birmingham Buddhist Centre activities or events specifically intended and advertised for adults likely to be more ‘at risk’ of mistreatment/manipulation must be DBS checked wherever eligible. In the case of Birmingham Buddhist Centre this means ​​our Carers Project team having basic DBS checks.

We will require anyone helping with such activities (paid or voluntary) who has not been DBS checked to be supervised at all times by someone who is DBS checked.

This does not apply to general activities which an adult with mental health difficulties (for example) may happen to attend.

Managing those who pose a risk to others

There are cases where it is known that a person attending our activities is likely to pose a risk to others (for example, a person who is known to have a previous criminal conviction for sexual or other violent offences, or someone who is under investigation for possible sexual or other violent offences).

Such a person will be asked by the Safeguarding Officers to negotiate a behaviour contract setting out the terms of their continued participation in Birmingham Buddhist Centre activities within agreed boundaries (see the document ‘Managing those who pose a risk’).​ Where it is felt that the charity does not have the resources to manage this relationship safely, we reserve the right to ask the person not to attend our activities.  

Appendix 4 – Types and signs of Abuse

 Types of Abuse, in more detail


  • Bodily assaults resulting in injuries, e.g. hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.
  • Bodily impairment, e.g. malnutrition, dehydration, failure to thrive.
  • Medical/healthcare maltreatment.


  • Rape, incest, acts of indecency, sexual assault.
  • Sexual harassment or sexual acts to which the person has not consented, or could not consent, or to which they were pressured into consenting. Sexual abuse might also include exposure to pornographic materials, being made to witness sexual acts; also sexual harassment, with or without physical contact.

Abuse through neglect

  • Ignoring medical or physical care needs.
  • Failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services.
  • Withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Organisational abuse

  • Neglect or abuse within an institution (e.g.hospital/care home) or care provided in own home.
  • One-off incident or continuing ill-treatment.
  • Poor professional practice, policies or structure of an organization.


  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Hoarding
  • Drug abuse.

Modern slavery

Examples: working as housemaids, in brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars and agriculture against their will, unpaid.

Some possible signs

  • Physical appearance, inappropriate clothing.
  • Isolation, not being allowed to travel alone, restricted freedom of movement.
  • Poor living conditions, few possessions, no ID documents.
  • Unusual travel times – being dropped off early morning or late at night. Modern Slavery Helpline (UK) 0800 0121 700

Domestic abuse

  • Physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse.
  • ‘Honour’-based violence or forced marriage.
  • Involving intimate partner or family member.
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Some signs and symptoms of domestic abuse

  • Visible injuries or unexplained marks, scars or injuries.
  • Making ‘excuses’ for injuries.
  • Controlling and/or threatening relationships.

Discriminatory abuse

  • Discrimination including gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, age, skin colour, language, culture, religion or belief, or politics.
  • Harassment
  • Loss of self-esteem.
  • Not being able to access services or being excluded.

Financial or material abuse

  • Misuse or theft of money.
  • Exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.
  • Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money.
  • Personal possessions going missing from home.
  • Extraordinary interest and involvement by the family/carer or friend in an individual’s assets.


  • Threats of harm, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, enforced isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.
  • Humiliation.
  • Bullying, shouting or swearing.

Signs of Abuse


NB: Ageing processes can cause changes which are hard to distinguish from some aspects of physical assault, e.g. skin bruising can occur due to blood vessels becoming fragile.

  • A history of unexplained falls or minor injuries.
  • Bruising in well-protected areas, or clustered from repeated striking.
  • Finger marks.
  • Burns of unusual location or type.
  • Injuries found at different states of healing.
  • Injury shape similar to an object.
  • Injuries to head/face/scalp.
  • History of moving from doctor to doctor, or between social care agencies; reluctance to seek help.
  • Accounts which vary with time or are inconsistent with physical evidence.
  • Weight loss due to malnutrition; or rapid weight gain.
  • Ulcers, bed sores and being left in wet clothing.
  • Drowsiness due to too much medication; or lack of medication causing recurring crises/hospital admissions.


  • Disclosure or partial disclosure (use of phrases such as ‘It’s a secret’).
  • Medical problems, e.g. genital infections, pregnancy, difficulty walking or sitting.
  • Disturbed behavior, e.g. depression, sudden withdrawal from activities, loss of previous skills, sleeplessness or nightmares, self-injury, showing fear or aggression to one particular person, inappropriately seductive behaviour, loss of appetite or difficulty in keeping food down.
  • Unusual circumstances, such as, for example, two people found in a toilet/bathroom area, one of them distressed.

Signs of psychological or emotional vulnerability

  • Isolation.
  • Unkempt, unwashed appearance, smell.
  • Over-meticulousness.
  • Inappropriate dress.
  • Withdrawnness, agitation, anxiety, not wanting to be touched.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Insomnia or need for excessive sleep.
  • Tearfulness.
  • Unexplained paranoia, excessive fears.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Confusion

 Signs of neglect

  • Poor physical condition.
  • Clothing in poor condition.
  • Inadequate diet.
  • Untreated injuries or medical problems.
  • Failure to be given prescribed medication.
  • Poor personal hygiene.

Signs of financial or material vulnerability

  • Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills.
  • Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts.
  • Disparity between assets and satisfactory living conditions.
  • Unusual level of interest by family members and other people in the vulnerable person’s financial assets.

Signs of discrimination

  • Lack of respect shown to an individual.
  • Substandard service offered to an individual.
  • Exclusion from rights afforded to others, e.g as health, education, criminal justice.

Other signs of abuse

  • Controlling relationships.
  • Inappropriate use of restraint.
  • Sensory deprivation, e.g. spectacles or hearing aid.
  • Denial of visitors or phone calls.
  • Failure to ensure privacy or personal dignity.
  • Lack of personal clothing or possessions.

 Appendix 5: Assessing and Managing Risk

Assessing and managing risk includes:

  • Fully assessing the risk.
  • Taking the necessary steps to address this with the adult at risk in the first instance (taking account of the adult’s views, experiences or concerns).
  • Collaborating in a planned manner with multi-agency colleagues.
  • Keeping accurate records.
  • Identifying the case holder or lead manager through which all information should flow at all stages of the process.